Monday, September 5, 2016

The Life of Brahms

Brahms (Life and Works (Naxos))Brahms (Life and Works by Jeremy Siepmann
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a great way to get to know a composer! Jeremy Siepmann's Brahms was exactly what I was looking for!

Jumping right into things, this audiobook takes you directly into the life, times and music of Johannes Brahms, the famous German composer from the mid-to-late 19th century.

Brahms has been a quiet favorite of mine. "Quiet" in that the music of his which I've heard so far has been on the softer, more relaxed side. And also "quiet" in that I have been a passive fan of his, not actively seeking out his work, but always enjoying it when I catch it on the radio. Occasionally I've intentionally tuned in to an internet station that only plays his stuff and I'll put that on in the background while I'm writing. Instrumental music is key when writing, because you don't want extraneous words drilling into your thoughts. Another positive is that Brahms' music doesn't tend towards the extremes, at least not the loud or excitable extremes, not from what I've heard. You don't get the agitated aggression you get from Beethoven now and then. With Brahms you can be sure you'll hear ear-satisfyingly good melodies.

The above might make one think Brahms was, well, boring, dependable and dull. I held that opinion before listening to this book, but Siepmann opened my eyes and ears to Brahms' subtle genius.

In Brahms sections of text are smartly interspersed with chunky passages from symphonies and smaller pieces. Siepmann explains the wheres, hows, and whys of Brahms' music and then we get to immediately hear examples. Brilliant! I'll certainly be seeking out other audiobooks he's done in this series!

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